Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Rev. Walter Davenport Buckner, A Man of the South 1869-1920

Walter Davenport Buckner was the only son of Robert L. and Mary Ann Buckner.  He had three sisters: Clara, Blanche and Estelle.  In the 1880 Census for Norfolk Virginia, his father Robert's occupation was carpenter.  His mother, Mary, had neuralgia and was listed as being sick or temporarily disabled.  Walter was 11 and attended school.  Before Buckner became an Episcopal priest he was a broker in Norfolk. The Tazewell Republican, January 14 1897, republished a nice article about his ordination to the priesthood:

"Rev. Walter D. Buckner, of this city, was elevated to the Order of Priesthood of the Episcopal Church at an ordination service held at St. Paul's Church at 11 o'clock this morning.  Rev. J.B. Funston, of Trinity Church, Portsmouth, preached the ordination sermon, in which he refered to the duty and office of the candidate; how necessary the priesthood is in the church, and also how the people ought to esteem the ministers in their office--the ordination followed the sermon.  Rev. Mr. Buckner was presented by Rev. D. B. Tucker, D.D. of St. Paul's, and Bishop Randolph ordained the candidate, reading the interesting service in a most earnest and impressive manner.  Rev. B.D. Tucker, D.D., REv. O.S. Barten, D.D., Rev. A. S. Lloyd and REv. J.D. Powell, of this city; Rev. J.B. Funston, of Portsmouth, and Rev. Mr. Lancaster of Berkley, assisted in the ordination.  During the offertory Miss Ethel Neely sang in a most charming manner "Holy City".  There was communion after services.--Norfolk Public Ledger, 6th Inst."

He married May Latimer September 19 1901 in Ft. Worth Texas. The following June, as reported by an article in the Norfolk Virginian dated June 4 1902 he gave his sister Blanche away in marriage to Arthur M. White.  After his ordination in 1897, he first spent time at the parish in Tazewell, Pine Bluff Arkansas and Little Rock.  He reached Memphis in 1911 and remained there till his death in 1920. He was interred at Elmwood Cemetery.

The following obituary appeared Men of the South: A Work for the Newspaper Reference Library by Daniel Decatur Moore, 1922.
The late Reverend Walter Davenport Buckner, LL.D., whose death in Memphis, Tennessee, on February 2, 1920, brought sorrow to the entire community, was distinctly a man of the South.  He was born in the South, reared in the South, educated in the South and died in the South, after he had lived a most useful life, ever upholding both by word and action the best traditions of the South.  Doctor Buckner was born in Norfolk, Virginia, March 1, 1869, the son of Robert L. and Mary Ann (White) Buckner.  He received his academic education at the Norfolk Academy and at the Norfolk College and then went into the business world. During the four years that he was so engaged he became a successful broker in his native city, and there was as bright a future assured for him in the world of commerce as he later attained to in the church, but he heard the Master's call and quit the busy marts for the Virginia Theological Seminary at Alexandria, where he took his theological course.  He spent five years in the seminary, coming out at the age of 27 years and on the first day of 1897, Bishop Randolph ordained him to the priesthood in the Episcopal church.  His first parish was at Tazewell in his native state.  His brilliance of mind, charm of manner and love for his fellowman were too conspicuous for so small parish and in a short time he accepted the call to Trinity Church, at Pine Bluff, Arkansas.  During the twelve years that Dr. Buckner remained there he became so closely interwoven into the religious and social life of the community that it was with universal sorrow that he accepted the call to Trinity Cathedral, in 1910, and moved to Little Rock, the capital of the state.  He had been there less than two years when old Calvary Church in Memphis lost its rector, the Reverend James R. Winchester, who became Bishop of the Diocese of Arkansas, and on October 11, 1911, Doctor Buckner succeeded him in that fine old parish.  From the time that he reached Memphis he was appreciated.  He sought no fame from sensationalism in or out of the pulpit, but beloved his fellowman, both in and out of the church, and loved to be with them.  They reciprocated.  He soon became chaplain of the Sons of Confederate Veterans and became the favorite at both the public and private gatherings in the city.  Ever a devoted priest to his flock, whether of high or low degree, these demands with those of his pulpit became too great for his frail physique and, on February 2 1920, he succumbed to a short illness from pneumonia, leaving the entire community mingling its sorrow with that of his widow, formerly Miss May Latimer of Fort Worth, Texas, and two children, Robert Latimer and Mary Sinclair Buckner.

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